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What is Graphic Measures International (GMI)?

GMI stands for Graphic Measures International, the company that developed the process. “GMI” has become a standardized system which brands use to judge the quality of printing jobs.

Printers serving brand owners with the most demanding requirements for package manufacturing quality can show that they are up to the mark by obtaining certification from Graphic Measures International (GMI). About 800 printers around the world hold the distinction, including roughly 250 in the U.S.

GMI came into being in 2009 when a group of printing and packaging experts decided it was time to bring a uniform set of quality standards to packaging production. The idea was to enable brand owners to work within their existing supply chains, holding their vendors accountable to clearly defined specifications for structure, graphics, print quality, and other characteristics that are crucial to brand integrity.

GMI provides quality assurance for private branding. Suppliers create products to be sold under house brands at major retailers, such as Threshold at Target or CVS Health at CVS. In addition to manufacturing the product itself, vendors must also create its packaging.

GMI ensures consistency of packaging materials. It monitors and reports each aspect of a print job, including paper, color, cut, fold, and even toxicity. It then scores the job and delivers the report to the brand and printer.

GMI usually adds about 15% to the cost of any print job. The brand pays for GMI to monitor and test its printed materials.

SGS International owns Graphic Measures International. They are incorporating the process into their Brand Guardianship offering. From the SGS International website:

The SGS Brand Guardianship program, powered by HUGO, is their best-in-class color management integrated with GMI established global packaging quality, to provide an ultimate closed loop solution.

GMI generally follows ISO 12647

ISO 12647 is a family of standards relating to the printing processes encompassing:

Data files and printing forms

Data delivery

Printing form quality

Screen frequency (periodic screens)

Dot size (non-periodic screens)

Screen angle (periodic screens)

Dot shape and its relationship to tone value (periodic screens)

Tone value sum

Grey reproduction and grey balance

Proof or production print

Visual characteristics of image components

Tone value reproduction limits

Tone value increase and spread

Tolerance for image positioning


Measurement methods

Computation of densities, CIELAB colour coordinates and CIELAB colour differences

Control strip

Who Should Get GMI Qualified

GMI’s certification methodology covers all aspects of package manufacturing in services provided to consumer-packaged goods manufacturers, retailers, and other brand owners. Besides printer certification, services include on-site monitoring, in-store assessment, and training.

Packaging printers understand certification where their clients want documented proof that the highest standards of performance are in place. These printers know that earning and keeping the credentials is a prerequisite for doing business with brand-owning producers of consumer packaged goods.

Printers who can make GMI’s benchmarks their own, becoming part of a select group that less capable printers can’t enter is the whole point of the undertaking.

Process of Achieving GMI Qualification:

  • Completion of a self-evaluation and submit it to GMI Corporation. QSE will assist in determining if you meet the minimum equipment and capability requirements for certification prior to the self-evaluation.
  • Certification fees are to be paid then you will receive a print test kit from GMI. QSE will ensure effective print test kit to evaluate your ability to produce printing plates that meet the standards, print according to the specifications, and match the provided samples.
  • We will then schedule an onsite consultation with a GMI engineer. The engineer will visit your facility and assess your performance in four areas: prepress, plate making, printing press, and post press. The engineer will also provide you with feedback and recommendations for improvement.  QSE will assist in addressing any nonconformities and opportunities for improvement.
  • Maintenance of your GMI certification by submitting samples for evaluation and passing in-store assessments. Your supplier score will reflect your quality and consistency. You can achieve different levels of certification depending on your score: platinum, gold, silver, or bronze.   QSE will assist in achieving the highest level of certification possible.

If a company wants to create a product to go into a certain retail store or stores, they need to determine the print service provider they want to use. If that printer is not certified, there needs to be a referral to GMI/SGS. The brand can usually accomplish this. The retailer may also be able to make the referral to begin the certification process.

The GMI process is based off of ISO 12647, a family of standards for printing processes. GMI took these standards and applied a scoring system to them. Brands can pick the aspects of printing that they would like to monitor, and GMI sets the parameters for each metric. Once a print job is underway or complete, GMI tests printing samples an assigns a score to each metric. Items outside of tolerance earn points, which range from 0 to 3:

0 is ideal. No flaws.

1 and 2 indicate minor flaws.

3 denotes a major flaw and an automatic fail for the entire print job.

During the printing processes the printer sends sample sheets directly to GMI for testing. If they pass, the packaging gets created and sent to the vendor. Once the vendor’s items hits the shelves, GMI often follows up on their original testing by taking in-store measurements. They monitor the same metrics while also counting product totals. Because vendors pay GMI for every submission, GMI checks whether printing and product totals match. They are not pleased when a vendor puts more products in stores after submitting fewer to GMI.

A small number of printers produce quality work so consistently that they are called High Performing Suppliers (HPS). An HPS can ship packaging and printed materials before GMI tests and approves their jobs. For any GMI retailer, there are typically one or two out of forty or more suppliers. Adams is one of them for Target, CVS, Lowes and many other national retailers. Regardless of whether our jobs will go to GMI for testing, we aim for GMI levels of compliance every time.

The Certification Process

There is a distinct difference between scoring a printing job with GMI and achieving GMI certification as a printing vendor.

For the vendor, the GMI certification process is relatively simple and pain-free. There are three phases that a printing vendor must go through to become GMI certified.

Self Evaluation

The self-evaluation includes conducting an internal audit. Guided by an online GMI tool, a vendor can determine whether they meet the minimum equipment qualifications and other criteria. Vendors receive an invoice for certification once they’ve achieved the prerequisites. Therefore, after payment is received, GMI sends the vendor the test print test kit.

Print Test

The actual print test kit evaluates vendors on a spectrum of qualities. That includes the vendor’s ability to deliver print quality that is up to the established standard. The GMI test kit evaluates the vendor’s capacity and ability to deliver on exact specifications.

Maintaining GMI Certification

Once an organization achieves GMI certification, the journey isn’t over. There is a lot of work to be done in terms of maintaining standards and printing quality. It is also the responsibility of printing vendors to attend to the quality of their print jobs and ensure that they deliver premium work to every client.

Additionally, there are three levels of GMI certification. The tiers exist to acknowledge printers, which boast a flawless record, and simultaneously identify where other printers need to be more attentive.

Platinum: Elite printers with a historic consistency score of no less than 90%.

Gold & Silver: Printers in good standing with a historic consistency score between 80%-89%.

Bronze: Printers with a performance history under review (under 79%).

Companies often hire expert consultants to simplify the certification process and reduce the burden on existing management teams in leaning new standards, ensuring compliance, developing documentation and more. This ultimately makes it more cost effective for companies to hire consultants to support them through the process than pursuing it on their own.

Quality Systems Enhancement is the only company that offers guaranteed certification through our 10-Step Approach™ to ISO (or any) certification. QSE consultants emphasize developing simplified, documented Management Systems which meet or exceed the requirements of any ISO (or any) standard requirements. This 10-Step Approach™ has a built-in discipline to involve all employees, including top management, right from the beginning to achieve long-term, desired results. Our approach is so complete that we have helped over 800 companies obtain certification, of which, the majority have obtained certification with zero deficiencies.

Support Services Offered by QSE

GMI Training:

  • QSE offers comprehensive training programs to help organizations understand and implement GMI effectively.
  • Our training sessions are tailored to suit your specific needs, whether you are new to the standard or looking to enhance your existing knowledge.
  • Our experienced trainers provide practical insights and real-world examples to make the learning process engaging and informative.

GMI Consulting:

  • QSE’s team of expert consultants specializes in guiding organizations through the process of achieving compliance with GMI.
  • We offer customized consulting services that address your unique challenges and objectives.
  • Our consultants work closely with your team to develop a tailored strategy for successful implementation and certification.

GMI Auditing:

  • QSE conducts thorough audits to assess your organization’s conformity with GMI.
  • Our auditors have extensive experience in evaluating compliance and identifying areas for improvement.
  • We provide detailed audit reports and actionable recommendations to help you continually improve your quality management system.

About QSE

Quality Systems Enhancement (QSE) was founded in 1992 by Baskar Kotte in Roswell, Georgia. Throughout the years, QSE has grown to include consultants from all over the world including the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and more.

QSE has helped over 800 companies to achieve registration in very diverse industries such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, healthcare, packaging, telecommunications and more. QSE is also a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and a member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) throughout the following states: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, and Kentucky.

Our proprietary 10-Step Approach™ to certification addresses each element in the standard and includes a mix of specialized training, consulting and auditing. We have used this approach successfully registering over 800 companies. Our approach has provided a one hundred percent success rate the first time through. Many of these successes were “zero deficiency” audits.

When utilizing this approach, we guarantee registration in as little as seven to eight months.

Of course, a variety of options are available to you based on your particular needs or budget requirements. We provide a no-obligation visit to assess your needs and offer a program that is customized to your company. Documentation is at the core of every Quality System. We believe in a one-level documentation system as opposed to the two / three / four level documentation structures preferred by many others. Our documentation rarely exceeds 200 pages, including all attachments. One of the intangible benefits of our simplistic one-of-a-kind documentation is that it is easy to maintain – and that is a great advantage when it comes to maintaining your certification through surveillance audits. We guarantee that our documentation addresses all the requirements of the standard and once implemented, will work for your company. Guaranteed!

Need Certification?

Quality System Enhancement has been a leader in global certification services for the past 30 years. With more than 800 companies successfully certified, our proprietary 10-Step Approach™ to certification offers an unmatched 100% success rate for our clients.

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